When my husband and I separated I was scared how my two year daughter was going to react to mommy and daddy not living together anymore. I am the kind of person that researches everything so as soon as my ex-husband and I decided to split up; I research ways to help her through this confusing, frustrating time.
Calmness and attention from the parents or other adults at each home – The first month after the split was horrible! My daughter threw tantrums, she was angry all the time, and just didn’t listen at all. It was very frustrating and many times I just didn’t know what to do. However, this was her way of communicating that she was having trouble dealing with the changes in her life, and so I was patient and eventually that behavior stopped completely.
Pacing the changes – Try to introduce changes slowly. For about the first two weeks after the split, my ex and I shared our family home. He has a weird working schedule, so on his days off he took the house, and then when he was working, I stayed at our family home. If you try this method and your divorce is incredibly messy like mine, the only communicating with your ex spouse I suggest you have should be about the child and the child only.
Provide understanding and physical comfort and affection when they are having difficulty – Let’s be honest here, the entire beginning will be extremely difficult. I made sure that when I had my daughter that she had 100% of my attention. I didn’t have friends over or take phone calls while she was awake, and if I needed to go somewhere without her, I would have my parents watch her during her nap time so that she would never wake up without me there. I also gave her more cuddle time than normal. I watched every bit of every movie she wanted to watch even though usually I had seen it about a million times.
Offer snacks and their favorite foods – When I moved out, I made sure that I had everything that she would normally want in our new home. In the beginning, I did give her more snacks than usual. Some people will frown on this, but I felt like in some cases that’s what I had to do to keep her happy.
Let them talk to the other parent when they want to – To this day, my ex and I call each other every night before her bed time so that she can talk to us. Also, if your child asks to speak the other parent before bed time, let him or her do it. Keep these calls about your child and only your child! Do not fight when this is happening, wait until your child is sleeping if you have something other to discuss.
Reduce the number of possessions they must carry with them – My child has a baby doll and blankets that she will not sleep with out. At first we transferred these back and forth, but after about a week, we duplicated everything so that she didn’t have to transport her things anymore. Now, she transports nothing, I have what she needs at my house, and her daddy has what she needs at his house.
Each child needs a bed and a space of their own – She has her own room at my place and I make sure that when she comes back that everything for the most part is the way she left it.
Match possessions closely – After the split, I took her old bed and her daddy let her pick out a new one for his house. Also we use the same kind of sippy cups, bowls, pull ups, etc. Try your best to agree with your ex spouse on this, because it will make your child’s transition easier.
Children’s self management – One thing that my ex and I agreed on was rules. We did the same things at bed time, eating, and potty training. It is imperative that these rules not be different, otherwise your child will become confused on what is okay where very quickly.